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ADA information

Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reached an agreement with Wells Fargo & Company to settle claims that Wells Fargo discriminated against customers with disabilities by (among other things) refusing to accept telephone calls from customers who are deaf and hard of hearing. Under this settlement, Wells Fargo will pay up to $16 million to compensate individuals who experienced discrimination. If you believe that you were a victim of disability discrimination or failure to accommodate discrimination by Wells Fargo, please click here to learn more about the settlement.

The deadline to file a claim for compensation is Jan. 29, 2012. If you or someone you know may be eligible, it is important that you or that person file a claim for compensation by this date; no claims will be accepted after Jan. 29, 2012. You can begin the process of filing a claim by sending your name, address, e-mail, and day and evening telephone numbers by e-mail to, or by leaving a message at 1-866-708-1273 (voice mail) or 1-866-544-5309 (TTY).


Settlement Agreement between
the United States and Wells Fargo & Company

On May 31, 2011, the Justice Department's Disability Rights Section and Office of the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California entered into a comprehensive settlement agreement with Wells Fargo & Company. Under the Agreement, Wells Fargo will pay up to $16 million to compensate individuals who experienced discrimination in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when trying to call Wells Fargo, access Wells Fargo's services, or visit one of Wells Fargo's retail stores.

Wells Fargo owns or operates almost 10,000 retail stores and 12,000 ATMs located throughout the United States. Wells Fargo offers a wide variety of financial services, including personal and commercial banking, mortgages, brokerage, insurance, and investments. The Department initiated its investigation after receiving complaints under Title III of the ADA filed by numerous individuals who are deaf, are hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities. The complainants alleged that Wells Fargo would not do business with them over the phone using a telecommunications relay service. Instead, the individuals were directed to call a TTY/TDD line that asked them to leave a message, which went unanswered. The Department determined that these actions violated the ADA. The Department also received a variety of other complaints alleging ADA violations by Wells Fargo, including the failure to provide financial documents to people who are blind or have low vision in alternate formats (e.g., Braille or large print), the failure to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services upon request for in-person meetings between Wells Fargo staff and individuals who are deaf, and the failure to remove barriers to access for individuals with mobility disabilities. The settlement agreement provides for resolution of all complaints alleging violation of the ADA in connection with Wells Fargo's financial services and retail facilities based on events occurring before May 31, 2011.

The settlement agreement requires Wells Fargo to accept calls made through a relay service by customers who are deaf, are hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities; remove physical barriers to access identified at its retail stores; provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified sign language or oral interpreters, computer-assisted real-time transcription, qualified readers, and documents in alternate formats (Braille, large print, audio format, accessible electronic format) to persons with disabilities when necessary to ensure effective communication throughout its financial services and programs; ensure that its ATMs and websites are accessible to individuals with disabilities; and remedy all other instances of discrimination - including architectural barriers and operational issues -- under Title III of the ADA that are identified during the claims process. In addition, the agreement requires Wells Fargo to make $1 million in charitable donations to non-profit organizations that will assist veterans with disabilities caused by injuries sustained while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan to live independently in the community. Wells Fargo will also pay a $55,000 civil penalty to the United States Treasury.



For Services Call: 1-800-342-1660 or TTY 1-888-852-2852

Effective Communication Rights of People with Disabilities

Governments and businesses have to give effective communication to
people with disabilities.  This is required by the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA).

Examples of government programs and businesses that have to provide
effective communication are

        Doctors, hospitals and other medical providers

        Attorneys and courts

        Government offices that are open to the public

        Polling places

        Utility providers like the phone company and water company

These are only examples.  Many other types of businesses and government
programs must provide effective communication.

Effective communication means that a person with a disability can
understand information in order to take part in a program or service.

Governments and businesses have to provide auxiliary aids and services
if needed for effective communication.  This means that the government
or business has to pay for needed auxiliary aids and services.

Auxiliary aids and services help give effective communication to people
with disabilities.

Examples of auxiliary aids/services:

1. qualified interpreters
2. note takers
3. screen readers
4. Brailled items
5. open or closed captioning
6. video interpreting services
7. instant or text messaging
8. taped texts
9. exchange of written notes
10. other devices/services to help with communication

Generally, a business or government ONLY has to provide auxiliary aid or
service if asked by a person with a disability who needs it.

Requests for a specific auxiliary aid or service do NOT have to be
granted if the need can be met in another way.  These requests also do
NOT have to be met if they would change the program/service or be an
undue financial burden.

Guidance for Requesting Effective Communication

If you know that you need help with communication, contact the private
business or government entity ahead of time to ask that they provide the
help you need.  Businesses and governments generally do NOT have to pay
for aids/services that you arrange for on your own.

If a business or government refuses to provide an auxiliary aid/service
that you need for effective communication, ask that they document their
refusal in writing.

How Disability Law & Advocacy Center of Tennessee (DLAC) Can Help:

1. If you are denied an auxiliary aid or service necessary for effective
communication, please contact DLAC as soon as possible.
2. Remember that each case is unique. We will investigate the
circumstances of your case.
3. Depending on your situation, our agency may be able to advocate on
your behalf and provide information to the government program or

If you think your rights have been violated or have questions or
concerns about effective communication, please contact:

Disability Law & Advocacy Center of Tennessee

1-800-342-1660 <>

Disability Law & Advocacy Center of Tennessee (DLAC) is the federally
mandated Protection & Advocacy (P&A) System for Tennessee. DLAC is 100%
funded by the Administration for Children and Families, the Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Rehabilitation
Services Administration, the Health Resources and Services
Administration, and the Social Security Administration.

This document is provided for general reference purposes only. None of
the information in this document is legal advice. To obtain legal advice
regarding these issues, you should consult an attorney.

For more information about Disability Law & Advocacy Center of
Tennessee, visit our website: <>

Alternative formats available upon request: 1-800-342-1660 (TTY:

Roger Boeving, Advocate
Disability Law & Advocacy Center of Tennessee
2693 Union Avenue Extended, Suite 201
Memphis, TN  38112
(901) 458-6013 Ext. 213
Fax (901) 458-7819 <>

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